District 1 – Alan Melot
It was so good to see so many of you at Festival. It was a blessing to get together again now that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be behind us.
Migwetch (thanks) to each of you who took the time to introduce yourself, to talk to me, to share stories, to show me your regalia, to talk about language, to share your heartbreaks and your joys. Perhaps my biggest disappointment was that District 2 Legislator Eva Marie Carney was not able to attend. Eva has such a positive reputation in our community, and I was looking forward to visiting with her in person. I was also looking forward to bidding on her hand games team! Instead, I had a blast sitting in for her in the hand games with old and new friends as we promptly lost to the Potawatomi Leadership Program (PLP) team. It was a delightful experience, and I look forward to playing next year with a District 1 team. We’re coming for you, Eva!
The Potawatomi Trail of Death Association (PTODA) had a nice presence at the Cultural Heritage Center with President George Godfrey, Secretary Kevin Roberts and Board Member Janet Pearl visiting with many of you. The PTODA has done nice work bringing light to dark parts of our history, and I look forward to the PTODA becoming more supported by District 1 citizens since the Trail cuts through the middle of our district. If you have interest in the PTODA, get in touch with George at firstname.lastname@example.org or with Kevin at email@example.com.
I’m planning to co-host a meeting in the Kansas City, Kansas, area with District 4 Legislator Jon Boursaw in October. Stay tuned for details. On that note, I have been tentatively planning to have a meeting in the New England area on Saturday, October 15. I am flexible on the location, but I can’t do this one on my own. I need someone to help with planning a lunch event, which includes finding a venue and arranging for food. If you are up to this, please get in touch via email, phone or Facebook!
Finally, I’d like to throw out an idea that’s been calling my name but that I can’t quite get fleshed out. I’d like for District 1 to have a council of women who can help guide me and others in the district with wisdom rooted in Potawatomi culture. If you are a CPN D1 woman and would like to help create something that’s both new and traditional, please reach out to me. I know that we have many gifted women in D1 and want to hear from you, as I know you have lots to offer.
It has been an honor to serve as your Legislator over this past year. Please keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine.
Legislator, District 1
608 S. Sergeant
Joplin, MO 64801
District 2 – Eva Marie Carney
Family Festival follow up and thank you
I missed the Family Reunion Festival. The week of the Festival I tested positive for COVID, so I unpacked my suitcase and stored my regalia. So disappointing! I had particularly looked forward to meeting several folks in person who I have corresponded with by email and phone only. I also was eager to visit with the latest class of Potawatomi Leadership Program students, including our niece Sophia Carney (Washington State — District 8, daughter of Legislator Dave Carney) and family friend Anna Korzeniewski (Maryland — District 2). I wrote letters supporting Sophia’s and Anna’s selection for the PLP program because both are accomplished and thoughtful young women who I can see leading our Nation in the future. It’s been lovely to hear that the two already have become friends. I’ve included their photo taken by Sophia’s mother, Nicole.
I am grateful to District 2’s Lyle Simmons for stepping up to organize and lead this year’s District 2 Hand Games team. It seems that there weren’t many District 2 folks at the Roundhouse Friday night, so many of the team members were not from District 2 (District 1 Legislator Alan Melot, for example), but Lyle worked it out. The District 2 team did not advance to a second round, but that is because it lost to the PLP team, which won the tournament. Migwetch, Lyle, for keeping District 2 in the game! I plan to attend the 2023 Festival and outfit a team once again in District 2 team hats. As Lyle put it, “District 2 team will be back for revenge (maybe with actual D2 folks) next year!”
As I write this, my to-do list includes finalizing an agenda for the July 9 District 2 family meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ve got some more District 2 Hand Games Team 2022 hats, and I’ll give those out as part of a traditional Hand Games demonstration we’ll hold during the meeting. I will report about the meeting in my September column. In the meantime, if you are interested in how to play the game, or want a refresher, the Hownikan published the rules at cpn.news/handgames.
Next will be our annual Fall Feast, scheduled for Saturday, November 12. We will celebrate fall with crafting and a potluck feast, location TBD. I will provide craft supplies and instruction, two main courses (one vegan) and drinks. Children are welcome. The craft is appropriate for children 8 and up with one-to-one adult supervision. Please save the date — it is never too early to RSVP. And please check our District 2 calendar at evamariecarney.com for location details and event updates. As long as it is safe to do so, I expect to host more meetings in 2023 outside the D.C. area and will share plans as they develop.
Supreme Court decision on states’ ability to prosecute crimes committed against Native people on Native land
As I’ve written before, I am no expert in Indian law. I do try to follow and understand the “big” court decisions. Last week’s Supreme Court decision, Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, No. 21-429 (S. Ct. June 29, 2022) is noteworthy, with uncertain ramifications. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) report (cpn.news/NARFCH) that the decision “held that the Federal Government and the State have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian Country.” Stanford Law School professors Gregory Ablavsky and Elizabeth Hidalgo Reese summarized the holding and rationale in a recent Washington Post opinion piece (cpn.news/CastroHuerta):
“The court held … that all states have, as a matter of state sovereignty, the power to prosecute non-Indian crimes within Native lands. And in a bold claim that departs from centuries of federal Indian law precedent, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote for the majority, “Indian country is part of the State, not separate from the State.”
To put it bluntly, this decision is an act of conquest. And it could signal a sea change in federal Indian law, ushering in a new era governed by selective ignorance of history and deference to state power.
NCAI and NARF are convening a virtual tribal leaders’ roundtable entitled “The Castro-Huerta Decision: Understanding the Case and Discussing Next Steps.” The roundtable will provide an overview of the Supreme Court decision and include comments from tribal leaders and legal experts about how the outcome will impact Tribal Nations and what steps can be taken to strengthen tribal sovereignty. I plan to attend the roundtable and will write about Castro-Huerta in a future column.
Bringing attention to the missing and murdered
According to the Department of Justice’s April 2021 announcement that it was forming a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS), approximately 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) throughout the U.S., and approximately 2,700 cases of murder and nonnegligent homicide offenses have been reported to the Federal Government’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. In June 2022, Seraphine Warren, a member of the Navajo Nation, began walking from her home in Sweetwater, Arizona, to Washington, D.C., to raise national attention for her missing aunt, 63-year-old Ella Mae Begay, and for the many Diné people who are missing or have been murdered and are lost to family and community. Ella Mae Begay was reported missing June 15, 2021, from Sweetwater; her details are included in the MMU’s database (cpn.news/EMB). You can learn more about these women at cpn.news/MMUwalk, follow Seraphine Warren as she crosses the country, and keep updated on law enforcement and government authorities’ responses by searching for Trailing Ellamae on Facebook.
Please keep in touch
I look forward to hearing from you! Migwetch (thank you) for the honor of representing you.
Eva Marie Carney
Ojindiskwe (Blue Bird Woman)
Legislator, District 2
5877 Washington Boulevard
PO Box 5591
Arlington, VA 22205
District 3 – Bob Whistler
I hope everyone was able to attend this year’s Family Reunion Festival June 24-26. We had a very good turn out, and I watched many enjoying the various crafts and programs presented.
Oklahoma Indian Legal Services
One group that I found very interesting was the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services organization. Oklahoma has been in the news lately, and various changes are being made that could change a tribe’s authority to enforce laws on tribal land. OILS can provide legal services to tribal members living in Oklahoma. It may be a tribal member’s legal item involving Indian law if the tribal member meets federal low-income guidelines. Their attorneys may also be able to provide information on issues that do not involve tribal law either. So, for those of you living in Oklahoma that have any legal issues and need help, OILS may be of assistance. Their phone contact is 1-800-658-1497.
American Indian Heritage Day of Texas
On Saturday, September 24, there will be a River of the Canoes powwow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of American Indian Heritage Day on the Trinity River in Dallas. There will be a water healing ceremony at this event along with other programs. The event will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. I will put the location and any new information in my September Hownikan article.
In April, District 3 citizen Eliza Berger forwarded a New York Times article about the H5N1 strain of avian influenza that is spreading among many raptors and wild birds, including the national bird. This virus has infected and lead to the death of thousands of chickens in the commercial industry and eagles throughout the U.S. To my knowledge, our Aviary has been fortunate, and because our birds are in a private enclosure, none have been infected. With the H5N1 virus on chickens, I would not be surprised to see the price of chicken increase if this virus persists. At the legislative meeting on Monday, June 27 after Family Reunion Festival, we passed resolution 23-02-TC&A which will provide up to $200,000 in funds to our aviary staff to assist with their veterinary costs. Having been made aware of this potential threat to our aviary bird group, I was extremely pleased that staff had identified and applied for this grant from the federal government.
Take a moment and envision yourself or a child, if you have one, and either of you have pink eye, nasal congestion, or an upper respiratory infection where you really need an antiviral or antibiotic medication. It is Saturday evening, December 24 at 8 p.m. You believe you need to talk to a doctor or go to the hospital emergency room. Where I live, the cost at the hospital will be something like $150 for the hospital and another $200 for the doctor that treats you. You now have the option to get the medical advice you need for free. Yes, FREE!! Our Nation has a program where you are able to reach a doctor for a verbal consultation 24/7, and CPN is paying for you to have this benefit for you and your family. All you need do is register. Many times, we have a medical situation, and we cannot see our own doctor because it is after their business hours. So, CPN came up with the program. You need to activate this plan for your family today. Visit cpn.news/CPNCare for more information or call 888-565-3303 and tell them you need to register for CPN Care!
I thank you for the honor of serving the citizens of District 3 and do so proudly. I am your voice, so please contact me if you have an area in question on benefits and services.
Bmashi (He Soars)
Legislator, District 3
112 Bedford Road, Suite 116
Bedford, TX 76022
District 4 – Jon Boursaw
2022 CPN Honored Veteran
This year at the 2022 CPN Family Reunion Festival, in the center of the Pow-Wow arena, I had the pleasure of presenting a U.S. flag to my brother, Lyman, in recognition of him being this year’s CPN Honored Veteran. Lyman was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956 and served two years at Ft. Bliss, Texas. After going through Basic Training and Tech School at Ft. Bliss, he remained there as an instructor on the Sky-Sweeper, a rapid-fire, anti-aircraft gun. Following the recognition as the Honored Veteran, Lyman participated in the Grand Entry as part of the CPN Color Guard, where he carried the Eagle staff. This was the 20th Grand Entry in which he has carried the Eagle staff.
Dr. Kelli Mosteller’s departure
I believe it was 15 years ago while I was the Director of the CPN Cultural Heritage Center (CHC) that I first met Kelli. At that time, she was a young graduate student at the University of Texas, working on a program that eventually led to her doctorate degree. During that first conversation in my office, there was no doubt in my mind that this young lady was going to go on to have a great career. Shortly after I returned to Topeka, I had another opportunity to connect with her as she was here to do research in the Kansas State Archives as part of her doctoral studies. During the time Kelli was the Director of CHC, we had numerous conversations and discussions on a variety of subjects, but more importantly, we worked together on two significant projects relating to the Tribe’s history in Kansas. Those are the exhibit on Burnett’s Mound and the ongoing research project at the historic Uniontown Cemetery, which includes the extensive Ground Penetrating Radar Survey being conducted by the Kansas Geological Service (KGS). Kelli will be truly missed as the CHC Director, but I know that she will go on to represent her Tribe and all Native Americans favorably as the Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program.
Upcoming CPN Elders’ potlucks
The dates for the next two Elder Potlucks held in CPN Community Center in Rossville at noon are:
August 12th: BBQ sliders and macaroni salad (RSVP by the 9th)
September 9th: Roast Beef and mashed potatoes (RSVP by the 6th)
Come join us and bring your favorite side dish or dessert. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Tracy or Brenda at 785-584-6171. Masks are not required but highly recommended.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Funeral Assistance for COVID-19 Deaths
Have you covered, or are you covering, the cost of a COVID-19 funeral? If so, FEMA may be able to assist you. You may qualify for up to $9,000 per funeral for expenses, if:
– You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified non-citizen
– The death was attributed to COVID-19, and
– You are responsible for the eligible funeral expenses incurred on or after Jan. 20, 2020
What is covered? FEMA may approve COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for expenses such as:
– Funeral Services
– Transfer of remains
– Casket or Urn
– Burial Plot
– Marker or Headstone
– Funeral Ceremony
– Funeral Home Equipment or Staff
– Costs associated with producing Death Certificates
– Costs due to local or state government laws or ordinances
– Transportation for up to two people to identify the person who died
For more information on how to apply, call 844-684-6333 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
Update on renovation of the Kansas State Museum of History
As I mentioned in last month’s Hownikan, the Kansas State Museum of History will be closed for approximately 18 months effective Sept. 4, 2022, for a complete renovation of the exhibit area. Prior to the closure, you can enjoy free admission to the museum from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3, 2022. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The Museum Store has already closed, but the Capitol Store and Museum Store Online continues to be open. Construction will be underway in July around the entrance. Please watch for signs to direct you from the parking lot into the building. I have been in discussions regarding relocating some of the exhibits to the Potawatomi Baptist Mission during the construction phase. I will keep you updated as we move closer to the projected reopening in late 2023 or early 2024.
Honored to serve you
It is an honor to serve you as your district representative. I appreciate hearing from CPN members in Kansas, whether in the form of a letter, email, phone call or in the office. Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you. If you are not receiving emails from me, it is because I do not have your current email address or what I have is incorrect. All you need to do is send me your email address, and I will enter you into my District 4 information file. My contact information is listed below.
Wetase Mkoh (Brave Bear)
Representative, District 4
2007 SW Gage Blvd.
Topeka, KS 66604
9-11 a.m. Tuesdays
3-5 p.m. Thursdays
Other times: please call
District 5 – Gene Lambert
It is so good to be back and moving with our people again.
The last article was written before the Festival and voting had occurred the last week of June.
It is difficult to share the excitement when you haven’t experienced it as of this year. You count on the fact that it is always a blessing to see and experience.
Hopefully, you are pleased with the voting outcome and perhaps you even attended the Festival 2022 this year. It was the first in three years to attend live.
First, let me say thank you to all of you as I was sworn in and confirmed in the last election, which means another wonderful four years representing District 5. Being able to serve you has been an enormous growing experience for me, and with God’s intervention, helpful to you, I would hope.
When I do not have the answers, we can always discover them as we travel that road.
Just decide you are going to attend next year for 2023. You would need to make your plans now as rooms and spaces are swallowed up early.
You will have the opportunity to meet relatives you didn’t know you had and see all the beautiful regalia and dancing. Meals are even served every day, and they are delicious.
No matter what your interests, there is something there for you. The museum, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center, alone is worth the attendance. Impressive!
Be a part of the General Council and hear firsthand what is going on in our Nation. Ask questions!
There is a waterpark for the kids and crafts so that they can learn the ways of our ancestors. They love it.
Try making your own moccasins, finish your own drum, shawl appliqué, fringing class, archery contests, art contests, horseshoes, visit the Eagle Aviary and much, much more. You have no idea of the surprises in store for you, but you have to get there.
I have never walked away disappointed.
Some members have shared with me they would feel out of place. How can you be out of place when you are home? You will discover that right away.
In order to be a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, your ancestor had to walk the Trail of Death. In addition, you cannot enroll if the chain or connection has been broken. It is a part of you.
The first time I attended Festival or powwow and I heard the drums, I could not keep the tears from my eyes. It was an immediate feeling of peace and that I belonged. So do you!
We are fortunate in today’s world we have leadership that cares about you and how we can support the Potawatomi people.
We can forever be grateful the department heads are genuine and willing to help in any way possible.
You can go to the website and take a look at all the services available to members in or out of jurisdiction. Amazing! If you have not been on the website in some time, they are continually updating and new services being offered. Take the time! It is to your advantage.
I am looking forward to the District 5 meetings, and we have already met in Arizona and Festival has successfully concluded for this year.
Keep an eye out for times and dates.
This is exciting to see everyone in person as it has been so long, so be sure to attend.
If you have moved or changed phone numbers, please let us know so we can stay in touch.
Love and miss you all,
Eunice Imogene Lambert
Legislator, District 5
270 E Hunt Highway, Ste 229
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143
District 6 – Rande K. Payne
Let me begin by saying that I’m very thankful for the opportunity to serve as the District 6 Legislator for another term. I would also like to congratulate all who were part of this year’s election cycle. I am especially pleased that Vice-Chairman Linda Capps will serve another term. It is an honor to work with her, and as I tell her often, “You are a blessing to so many.” Our executive team remains strong with Secretary/Treasurer D. Wayne Trousdale serving another term as well. I also look forward to working with Representatives Gene Lambert of District 5, Mark Johnson of District 7 and Dave Carney of District 8 for another term. Congratulations to Supreme Court Chief Justice Angela Riley, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Tim Coulter and Chief District Judge Phillip J. Lujan on their re-appointments.
While all but District 7 Representative Mark Johnson ran unopposed for elected positions, I would like to thank the voters of District 7 for participating in the election. Elections have consequences, and every vote counts. No truer words have ever been spoken. While Representative Johnson and I may not agree completely on every single Tribal matter, I believe District 7 will be well represented for the next four years. Representative Johnson is not only a valued colleague and asset to our Nation, but I am also honored to call him friend.
I’m amazed at how well Family Reunion Festival went this year. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, it was great to have an in-person gathering. All the folks involved in the planning and execution of this year’s event have good reason to be proud of how smooth everything ran. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s Festival one of the best ever.
It was nice to have a brief but very enjoyable visit with District 6 Tribal member and Supreme Court Chief Justice Angela Riley. I had not talked to her since she attended the District 6 and District 7 gathering in Visalia several years ago. I remember Chairman Barrett naming Angela and her two daughters at that event.
It was refreshing to be able to meet this year’s group of PLP students face to face. Their enthusiasm was infectious and brought a smile to my face. There is no doubt that these future leaders have a bright future ahead of them. I know this because they own the distinction of being the first PLP students to win the hand games competition. Congratulations!
Grand Entry was a little different this year as the focus was on remembering the Potawatomi tribal members who walked on due to COVID. Many suffered and were lost to this dreadful disease. Any of us who were not directly impacted by COVID should consider ourselves lucky as many of our Potawatomi families were unable to escape the awful effects of COVID.
On a brighter note, Grand Entry continues to get bigger and better every year. I’m amazed at how well dressed we were compared to just a few years ago. Participation is up as well, but the regalia is a sight to see. Hopefully, our competitive dancers will continue to grow in the years ahead as well. With the assistance of Representative Johnson, I had the pleasure of announcing the dance competition winners. That I can do, just don’t ask me to be a judge. Everyone did so well this year that it would have been difficult to determine the winners! Congratulations to all!
As happy as I am for her, it was hard to see Dr. Kelli Mosteller for the last time as the Director of the Cultural Heritage Center. Seeing the lives she has touched and their emotions of sadness and joy were indictive of how fondly and respectfully she is thought of. Dr. “Most Steller,” as I like to think of her, is nothing short of amazing. Her work and accomplishments during her time at CPN will benefit us for years to come. I have enjoyed working with her and fully appreciate her passion for making sure our story is told and heritage is preserved. I’m confident she will represent us and all Native Americans well on her new journey at Harvard University. I wish her all the best and hope to see her down that red road again someday. Bama mine, Kelli.
In closing, I would like to share with you that my daughter Rochelle, her husband Tim and their four children recently moved from California to Tennessee. On their way through Oklahoma, they stopped in Shawnee for a quick rest and visit to Tribal headquarters. I would like to publicly thank Ms. Capps for taking the time to visit with them and give them a personal tour of the Cultural Heritage Center. Rochelle and her family felt very welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed the time they spent in Shawnee. Ms. Capps represents the best of who we are as Potawatomi people.
I just want to add one more thing. Thank you to those who traveled from the District for the Festival. It isn’t cheap to travel these days, so thanks again for attending. Hopefully, you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Potawatomi Word of the Month: dbande — love each other
Words of Wisdom: “The knowledge of God’s will, the interpretation of God’s word, and the loyal ties to institutions along with the tenets of our traditions combine to create intensity in our beliefs and opinions which affect our relation with others.” — Fred Smith
Wisdom from the Word: “I give you a new commandment — to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
Migwetch! Bama pi
(Thank you! Later),
Rande K. Payne
Legislator, District 6
31150 Road 180
Visalia, CA 93292-9585
District 7 – Mark Johnson
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the faith and trust that you have bestowed upon me. I am truly humbled to have been re-elected for a fourth term to serve you as your District 7 Legislator, and I think it speaks clearly that our members believe in the direction our great Tribal Nation is moving.
During the election, I spoke about the need for the members in District 7 to participate in your Tribe by voting. I was disappointed when the vote totals were read at the General Council meeting to learn that only 136 votes were cast from District 7; there were 49 additional absentee ballots that were requested and not returned or arrived too late to be counted. That represents less than a 7 percent voter turnout in District 7. Think about the fact that well over 95 percent of Tribal members applied for and received the $1,400 American Rescue Plan Act money from the Tribe and less than 7 percent voted. I need your help to turn this trend around. It really takes very little time to pay attention to the issues that the Tribe faces and then vote every four years for the candidate that best represents your values.
As always, I will continue to work with our members in the district to address your needs and to help you access all benefits that are available to you. I will also work with the other legislators and executive staff on the needs and challenges that face our great Nation going into the future. As the membership of our Tribe has now increased past 38,000, it will be increasingly important that we remain vigilant in ensuring that those same benefits that you enjoy today remain available to our membership into the future, while insuring the economic, cultural and spiritual health of our Tribe.
Once again, I would like to say what an honor it is to serve you as your District 7 Legislator. As always, give me a call, and I will be happy to work with you on any questions you may have or provide you with additional information you may need to access Tribal benefits that are available to you. Please also take the time to give me a call or send me an email with your contact information so that I can keep you informed of the happenings within the Nation and District.
Wisk Mtek (Strong as a Tree)
Legislator, District 7
1565 Shaw Ave., Suite 202
Clovis, CA 93611
District 8 – Dave Carney
At the end of June, I was fortunate to return to the Nation for the CPN Family Reunion Festival, which is always held the last full weekend in June each year, except for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. It was a little subdued in comparison to pre-pandemic years. I believe the attendance was below 4,000 citizens and their family members. In the past, we have celebrated with 5,000+. I believe this number will grow as we put COVID in our rear view mirror.
For those that have not attended, it is a full weekend (Friday through Sunday) of cultural classes, competitions, tours of enterprises and historic sites, tournaments, voting and the General Council meeting, and religious/spiritual gatherings. While I have attended many of these weekends, this was one of my favorite times — largely because I was able to see and visit with my daughter, Sophia, who is participating in the Potawatomi Leadership Program.
The PLP is a six-week internship for young adults, generally either recent high school graduates or students who have just completed their freshman year of college. Approximately 10 students are selected through an application process from around the world. The students write an essay, turn in their academic transcripts and submit letters of recommendation.
These young adults are housed at the Sharp House (formerly owned by a wealthy doctor) with house mother Margaret Zientek and a prior PLP camp counselor keeping a watchful eye on the participants. Tesia Zientek, the head of the Department of Education, coordinates the program. In their off time, they shop together, cook together and recreate together. During working hours, they visit various departments that make the Nation run, tour and rotate through the enterprises and participate in many cultural activities including language classes, regalia making and sweats.
One of the very entertaining events of the Family Reunion Festival is hand games. Always fun and a little crazy, teams of eight citizens and/or their guests are formed and auctioned off by Chairman Barrett in Calcutta fashion. The money collected from the winning bidder gets amassed in a large pot and the winning team and the buyer of said team split the winnings.
The rules of hand games are simple — very much like the child’s game, button, button. One member of team A has a pointer and faces two members of team B. Team B members each have one shell that they switch from closed fist to closed fist to the beating of a powwow drum. Sometimes dancing or making distracting gestures, the team A member must use the pointer to signal if they believe the other team has the shells in their left hands, right hands or one right and one left. If they point correctly, a point is scored and a bone or elongated bead is awarded to keep score. The first team to get eight bones wins the match.
There are eight teams facing each other in teams of two over and over again until an ultimate winner takes it all. This year, the Potawatomi Leadership Program fielded a team that included my daughter, Sophia, with seven of her fellow PLPs. My wife, Nicole, purchased the team during the auction. It was very fun to see the excitement of these young folks as they won the entire hand game competition. In fact, their victory is the very first time that the PLP took the top place. At the end, the team owner and the players split the pool of money. Each winner tips the powwow drum singers from their winnings.
It is my pleasure to serve you as your legislator, and I am grateful for your confidence. I was sworn in at the General Council meeting by Judge Angela Riley.
Legislator, District 8
520 Lilly Road, Building 1
Olympia, WA 98506
District 9 – Paul Wesselhöft
I once knew a great man.
When I write the adjective “great,” I mean he accomplished many things some consider great. He was born into a wealthy aristocratic family. He was named after a famous and prominent U.S. Senator. He attended private academies and graduated from America’s greatest university. His father and family were pillars of society. His niece was a very famous actress, and his nephew was a governor of a prominent state.
As an officer, he was a WWII war hero serving in the military’s most elite combat unit led by a famous historical officer. Coming from old money, he married into old money. As a businessman, he amassed millions of dollars. In late life, he set a few world records in the sport he loved.
In his mansion next to the ocean, famous people would dine, including ambassadors, governors, U.S. senators and even a Vice Presidential nominee. He contributed millions of dollars to institutions and politicians of his political party.
For nearly two years, I was the caretaker of his mansion and property by the sea. I was his faithful servant. I worked for him and his wife but took all duties and instruction from her — none from him. He gave none.
Numerous times I tried to engage this man in conversation but to no avail. He didn’t care to engage me in chit chat or in serious conversation. He had no interest in my life, my background, education or my goals in life. I have never felt so insignificant and small in a person’s presence. If I had not talked to him, he would have ignored me all together. He cared nothing of me.
As a young man starting out in life, this man could have influenced me. If he would have taken me just a little under his wings, he might have had a major impact on my life. That was not to be. He was mentor material but never materialized it.
In contrast to his life, I have not accomplished the great things as he did. However, if you are reading this, I want to know who you are? Why? I consider you and everyone a creature created by God, and I want to know why God created you. You interest me. I want to know your background, your family, your education, your vocation and your goals. Your life has meaning to me. I want to know what you are made of, your character. I want to know what makes you tick.
The great man I write of wanted to know none of those things about me. So why am I writing about this experience in my young life? I’m not really sure but to say that a great attribute to have, I believe, is to care about people. I hope you, like me, consider me a creature created by God and you want to know why God created me. I want to know why God created you.
Yes, I once knew a great man, but then again, I didn’t.
Legislator, District 9
District 11 – Andrew Walters
I went out the other evening to help Cora with her garden. Now, I’m 6’ tall, 235 lbs., cuss too much and have been known to drink cheap whiskey. Hardly the poster boy for Better Homes and Gardens. In fact, I’ve even managed to murder cactus . But I figured, “What harm could come if I just watered the plants?” So, I put the hose together, put the sprayer on mist-ify and went about dousing the flowers. The heat in Oklahoma that evening was oppressive. The humidity was higher than a cat’s back. The flowers drooped and looked lifeless. It was apparent they were just flat beat down by the heat. As I stood there, showering the plants with cool water, making sure each one got a good soaking, I started to see a remarkable revival happen. The plants began to stand up straighter and the flower bowls turned upward. The leaves even appeared to get greener. I marveled at that, and of course, began to think. That’s the problem with us “front porch philosophers.”
I was, as a youth, told that man has “dominion” over all other living things in this world. Over the plants and oceans, the fish and the fowl, the walking and crawling things. I don’t really know where that belief came from. I know that, in Genesis, Chapter 1 verse 28, it says about the first man and woman: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
But then in Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 15 it says: “And the Lord took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
So, standing there in my front yard, in the sweltering heat, I had an epiphany. Now, I’m not deeply religious, but I am a deeply spiritual person. I hope God isn’t Episcopalian, Catholic, Baptist, Buddhist, Muslim, Shinto, Methodist or any other faith that man has devised. I was once told that religion is man’s attempt to reach God, and that Jesus was God’s attempt to reach man. So many times, religious doctrine and dogma divides us rather than joining us. God watches over all of us. I believe the Creator sometimes lets us stumble and fall so that we learn the right path to walk. My God is loving and caring. So, if it’s true that God made us in his image, then I think we were put here not to exercise dominion and control over all things, but rather to be keepers, tenders and caretakers of this earth.
We Potawatomi are called the “Keepers of the Fire.” There’s been some stories about that. One is that we are the Keepers of the Council Fire. Another is that the brother Tribes, the Chippewa (Ojibwa), the Ottawa (Odawa) and the Potawatomi, were collectively known as “The People of the Three Fires.” The Chippewa were given the responsibility of “Keepers of the Faith.” The Ottawa were the “Keepers of the Trade.” And the Potawatomi became responsible for keeping the “Sacred Fire.” But what does the phrase “Sacred Fire” mean? To me, one of the most compelling definitions is simply, life. Life and that connection between generations and ancestors. The natural cycle of all living and material things. Like seeds, passed from generation to generation to be planted, grow and die but producing more seeds for the next crop, the next generation. So as the “Keepers of Life,” tending to this world is our responsibility, passed down from generation to generation through the cycle of life. The idea that we are masters over this Earth is wrong. We are simply a part of the larger circle of life, put here by Mamogosnan to tend to and love this earth — and each other, just like First Man and First Woman. We are all equal, none better, none worse. Life travels that circle eternally.
With that thought, I realized that, over the years, a weed has grown among the Tribe. Animosities that were rooted in events years past have grown into the bitter tree of resentment. And resentments are hard, if not impossible, to overcome. Resentments ignore all attempts at reconciliation. Resentment, like life, seems to recycle, easing its way into future generations. Resentment bears the fruit of scorn, and scorn, once planted, begins the cycle again. Somehow, someway, soon we must come together as a Tribe and shed the antipathy and odium that has choked out our garden and kept us from flourishing.
We are the Keepers of the Fire…The Keepers of Life. We should embrace that concept in our daily lives and spread that fire throughout our Tribal community. We should immerse our children in the meaning of life, in the joys of being Bodewadmic and not in the bitterness of age-old resentments. We should tend our Tribal garden, gently watering our Tribal brothers and sisters with compassion, cooperation, praise and understanding. Then, like the flowers in Cora’s garden, maybe there will be a strengthening and revitalization in our people, our Tribe, our beliefs and ways of life.
Legislator, District 11